Boat Transport Tips

More than 25% of the boat transport carriers who have registered to gain access to loads on 1stAboard, misrepresented either their authority or insurance. They were illegal carriers.

We are not concerned that you choose a transporter associated with 1stAboard, only that you choose a competent and legal one. 

One of the main things illegal carriers depend on is the fact that most people will not confront them regarding information provided. It is one thing to request proof of authority and insurance, but quite another to question a company because you think something is out of place.

We have carriers who give us another company's ICCMC number and say they run under their authority. Or we are sent copies of an insurance policy, which if you read, looks legitimate, yet when we call the insurance company, either the company name has been altered or the policy expiration date has been altered based on the policy number listed.

We have warnings about illegal carriers posted on our web site, yet more than 25% of the carriers which have applied were illegal in one respect or another. You can be certain the percentages are much higher from inquiries made directly from the unsuspecting public.

If an illegal carrier moves your boat and damages result, chances are great you will not recover your losses.

Do not simply accept someone's word, or a bad faxed copy of proof of insurance. Get a carrier's DOT authority number, then go online to and investigate the company. Safer lists many things in their "Carrier Snapshot", from the type of insurance, how many vehicles a carrier has, whether or not they have had any accidents, and what type. 

Illegal and incompetent transporters have become epidemic.

The internet has facilitated the ability for illegal and incompetent brokers and carriers to access the public directly by simply publishing a web site. Most people do not take the time to research the authority and insurance of a company, and as a result, a growing percentage of customers are running into serious trouble. 

We strongly recommend you thoroughly research any company you are considering to transport your boat.

Even if a customer feels they have verified authority and insurance, many times a customer will just accept a faxed copy of authority and insurance thinking if the carrier is willing to fax it, then it must be valid. But when something goes wrong, the customer may find that the information was incorrect, and they have no recourse for damages. We have provided several scenarios below regarding the things which can happen with either illegal or incompetent transporters.

Improper authority and insurance.

This is the single largest cause for trouble. Many companies present themselves as having proper authority and insurance, when in fact, they do not.

For example, a company can transfer boats within certain states without proper federal authority. They publish a web site, get listed in the yellow pages, and contract loads. Many times these companies think they are acting in good faith, even with their insurance.

Companies also intentionally avoid proper authority and insurance to cut expenses, and therefore offer customers competitive prices. 

A transporter without authority does not stop into weigh stations, and they do not maintain proper logs. As a result, they can travel more hours at greater speeds, which usually leads to a higher percentage of accidents and increased damages.

The customer says, "But they pulled up with the logo right on the side of the truck, and we saw their insurance." True, and some times, once around the corner, the company pulls the magnetic plates off the door and runs under the appearance as a private truck. 

Ask any transport company, proper insurance is one of the single largest expenses to operating a proper transport business. True, a small company may have insurance, but it is not commercial insurance. Read just about any insurance policy carefully, even your own. It will clearly state that it is a "Personal Insurance Policy" and that any commercial activity will void coverage. 

Both customers and transporters sometime make the fatal assumption that personal insurance is ok, even if there is a problem, the transporter will say it is their vehicle. An investigating traffic officer will always ask for proof of ownership, and an investigating insurance appraiser will always look into why an individual was hauling someone else's boat. 

The overwhelming majority of the time an insurance adjuster will prove that the vehicle was being moved for hire, in which case, their liability for coverage is null and void. Now the customer must try to extract payment for damages from the transporter. If it is an inexpensive boat, they may have a good chance. If it is an expensive boat, chances are they may not.

If You Don't Ask For Every Specific, You Could Pay More

Here is a recent example from Freedom's Edge Marine Transport who uses a hydraulic trailer. "The transport was a 30 footer going from Mass. to Maine.  I quoted the gentleman $1500.00.  He went with a company that quoted $1400.00.   When all was said and done however, he had to pay to have the boat loaded at the origin because it was not on a hydraulic trailer.  He then had to find a marina near his destination with a travel lift to have the boat unloaded.  Because he wanted the boat at his residence, he further had to pay to have a local transporter with a hydraulic trailer to bring it from the marina to his home.  When all was said done, the $1400.00 turned into $2100.00, whereas my $1500.00 estimate included loading and unloading direct to his residence."

Illegal or Incompetent Boat Transporters Part 1

Many times an incompetent transporter, having contracted a load for a customer, gets into a situation which could cost the customer a great deal of additional money. 

For example, recently, a transporter with authority, but without any signs displayed on the side of his truck, tried to transport a 34 foot Sea Ray from Kentucky to Florida without getting oversized load permits. The beam was 10 feet, 6 inches, and when he tried to pass the weigh station in Tennessee without pulling in, the DOT officers pulled the transporter over.

The result was "seizure" of the customer's boat. The weigh station officers would not let the boat leave until it had been on a proper truck with permits. The customer had to arrange immediate services from a different qualified transporter, which cost a hefty additional fee for the short notice. The customer also had to arrange and pay for a crane to be transported to the weight station in order to lift the boat off the first carrier's trailer and onto the second. Before the customer had left the weigh station, they were short several more thousands of dollars.

Illegal or Incompetent Boat Transporters Part 2

Competent boat transporters know the importance of double checking every single detail when it comes to large boat transport. Many times less competent transporters are more concerned with contracting the load, again, costing the customer a great deal of additional expense.

Another incident involved a sailboat being transported from Connecticut to Washington. The customer gave the weight as 23,000 pounds and the beam width as 10 feet, 11 inches. In reality, the boat was 32,000 pounds, and the beam width was 13 feet, 10 inches.

The result was that the rear axle of the transporter's trailer broke due to the excessive weight, which was beyond it's rated capacity. Again, a crane and proper trailer had to be dispatched to a truck stop in Ohio, which took several days. In addition, the transport had pre-paid over $500 in permits which were voided. When all was said and done, the customer had to spend several thousand dollars extra to eventually get their boat to it's final location.

A Few Final Words From The Owners Of 1stAboard

Although it is our goal to eventually generate an income from the boat leads on 1stAboard, our main priority is to help reform certain aspects of the boat transport industry.

1- We have formed an organization of independent carriers to help monitor and police not only themselves, but also the brokers they do business with.

2- We have increased public awareness of the dangers which exist with boat transport.

3- We have organized a group of qualified independent boat carriers for customers to rely upon.

4- We have generated leads for independent carriers, in an attempt to remove the "desperation aspect" which causes much of the "lowballing" and illegal transport practices.

5- We have assisted independent carriers with the creation of web sites and free advertising to further increase their leads.

6- We have spent thousands of dollars in sophisticated bidding programs in an effort to enable many carriers to provide customers leads without disclosing the customer's contact information to ensure that the information will not end up in the hands of questionable companies.

We have done all of this, at no required expense to either the consumer or carrier. To date, we have spent many times more on development, than all of the monies contributed by all boat carriers combined.

So please believe us when we say that no matter who the boat carrier is, or where you find them, just be sure they have active Federal Authority and active cargo insurance. Not liability insurance, cargo insurance.